The Balvenie has been a distillery that I’ve… let’s not say avoided… It more like ignored. Fair or not, you know what they say about first impressions and I was not a fan of the Carribean Cask as my introduction to the Balvenie and, well, I just haven’t had much urge to give ‘er another go… until recently.
Lately, my whisky journey has been leading me toward drams that market themselves as throwbacks in some way. Call me old fashioned but I guess I kind of romanticize the idea of doing things from scratch or, at the very least, small-scale, hands-on craftsmanship. So, I’m in the bottle shop and I finally pull down a carton for the Balvenie and I read the words:
Hook, line and sinker… It was time to give them another chance! This whisky is bottled at 40% abv and cost me approximately $80 CDN.
Lovely bourbony copper-orange with the odd flash of brighter brass. A tilt of my glass produces thick, stubborn legs.
In the Nose
My first sniff reveals loads of orchard fruits – ripe red apples and juicy pears. Then comes some red licorice, honey and some typical vanilla-caramel goodness. Eventually, with time, a firm, spicy oak backbone reveals itself along with a subtle note that reminds me of kosher pickle brine. Overall, I find the combination of aromas to create a soft yet sophisticated nosing experience.
On the Tongue
I had been a little discouraged that this dram was only 40% but it’s one of those good 40% whiskies that delivers plenty of flavour! Oak, buttered toast, filberts. It’s not nearly as sweet as the nose suggested, although there is a drop of honey in there. Vanilla, a hint of cinnamon, dark, stewed fruit… Perhaps a bit of marmalade. (Maybe it’s the time of year but I get a vague sense of Christmas pudding but not in a heavy or overly sweet way.) Man, I really like how that oakiness asserts itself early and serves to harness all of the other flavours, weaving them into a thread of pleasant toasty, nutty bitterness!
The finish is medium, with pepper and licoricy fennel seeds, followed by a return of the oak and some mineral notes, with honey bringing up the rear. This dram exits with a similarly pleasant bitterness that was found earlier on the palate and creates a nice, slightly dry finish that encourages another sip!
I’m sure glad I grabbed this bottle and got sucked into the romanticized farm-to-glass marketing – this is a quality drop! I find The Balvenie DoubleWood 12 yr Old whisky to be wonderfully balanced and I love how it seems to hint at sweet while playing a savoury riff throughout. This is a well-composed whisky that needs to be in your cabinet, if it’s not already – I think all whisky drinkers, newbies or experienced drammer’s will appreciate it!